Mel Hall ’91 shared decades of business experience at a Rocky event on February 12 encouraging students to explore gaining a foothold within the food industry and succeeding at creating a small business. Mel recalled his constructive time spent at Dartmouth using the flexibility of the D-Plan and grants.
Mel’s motivation to start a business was the idea of, after coming out of Dartmouth, creating and giving jobs, rather than merely attaining one. Mel and his wife, whose love story began while studying abroad in Kenya, worked in concessions and catering. His wife is the culinary genius of the duo.
Taste of Africa credits its success to the $50,000 of capital one generous associate invested in addition to the help of economic development groups. “Business people are generous because we owe our progress to people who were generous to us,” he mused. Similarly, Mel was amazed when after Hurricane Irene devastated his newly constructed 2,000-square ft. kitchen, the community united to help him clean up, move to a new location, raise funds and be up and in contact with distributors within 6 weeks.
Mel satisfies his customers’ interests by focusing on authenticity. He implements a traditional healthy eating philosophy, which aligns with the latest trend of gluten-free and allergen-free foods. Taste of Africa returns back to traditional roots by offering products, such as their savory Groundnut Vegetable with ground peanuts, in a style similar to that of Kenyan tribes who needed to find creative ways to infuse protein throughout their meal.
Taste of Africa is quickly expanding down the East coast, hoping to move to the West coast in two years time. With meals such as Swahili Curry Chicken (my personal favorite), infused with coconut milk and lime juice, Kienyeji Cabbage (Kenya), and Turmeric Seasoned Rice (Tanzania), Taste of Africa will surely flourish thanks to its unique product, distinct flavor and health benefits. It’s hard to categorize Taste of Africa’s food, but rich, umami sensation comes close. You may have noticed the variety of mouth-watering prepackaged meals, including samosas, from Taste of Africa at the Hop. Look out for more specialty dishes featuring brown rice with millet, Kenyan kale and Ethiopian sauce coming soon to campus dining halls. Your taste buds will certainly thank you!